Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 honed in on its irreverent comedy, backstory and beautiful visuals while succeeding through its lovable cast and, seriously, amazing visuals.
Drew, Jon and I saw the follow-up to the 2014 thrilling hit at Celebration North in Grand Rapids in IMAX 3D. My god, I usually don't like 3D movies because I wear normal glasses and they don't offer glasses that fit over normal glasses. Seriously, how is that not a thing? Sorry, back to the topic.
This movie is visually stunning in an insane type of way. Oh, and your cheeks will most likely hurt after seeing this movie. I felt like I was grinning from ear to ear for the entire 2-plus hours.
While it's beautiful to look at and absolutely hilarious, it does lack a little in the insane action scenes from the first. There is a scene, semi-included in trailers, where Rocket is asking Star-Lord to ask around for tape in the middle of an intense battle. Instead of seeing what we're hearing on the other side of the wall, insane spaceships and our heroes fighting for their lives, we're watching Rocket wait with Baby Groot while Star-Lord asks everyone for tape. It's hilarious, I loved it and it was so perfectly Rocket, but this is where the sequel differs from the original. Now, I am personally a big fan of the zany, off-the-wall approach as it fits the characters to a T.
But, the focus in the sequel is on making you laugh before thrilling you. The first, vice versa.
It has been a pleasure to watch Dave Bautista grow into Drax. Chris Pratt's Star-Lord reminds me of a more mentally mature version of Andy Dwyer with superpowers (it's perfect). Also, Bradley Cooper absolutely nailed Rocket Raccoon, and Zoe Saldana helped make Gamora more of a well-rounded character with some nice drama, action and funny scenes.
James Gunn knows how to make a movie, and you can disagree with the direction of the sequel and still believe this, but he stuck to the narrative he sets with the amazingly/adorable/ridiculous opening scene.
The sequel does a great job breaking the group into smaller groups so the characters could shine with more of a spotlight. Getting a pretty fantastic Rocket action scene, my favorite of the movie, and some emotions from the Bradley Cooper-voiced character really did it for me.
It just felt like Rocket through and through, and comparable on a lesser level to that of Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool. I left this movie saying, "yeah, I want a Rocket spinoff at some point."
While we're on the topic of being perfect for a role, that's where we talk about Pratt as Star-Lord, Bautista as Drax, and Michael Rooker as Yandu. I loved Saldana's performance, because she's so believable and fun to watch be a badass, but I felt she was bogged down by the combo storylines of love interest of main male character and bad sister to a somehow sympathetic Nebula.
I'm hoping that was just due to the direction of this film, and not the overall direction of this character. I will say, though, that the build between Gamora and Peter was just about spot on in pace and timing of its peaks and valleys.
Kurt Russell was a fine addition to the series as Ego, which may have not been everyone's favorite direction was a much needed plot to chase. Russell and Pratt have obvious similarities as actors and handsome men, so the role of Pratt's father fits like a glove.
Speaking of welcome additions, Pom Klementieff did a fantastic job as Mantis as a comedic relief and key focus for Drax throughout the movie. There is a scene where Mantis touches Drax's shoulders and feels what he feels after telling the story of his wife and daughter, and let's just say that it's a scene that sticks with you.
I feel very positive about the end result of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 because it stayed true to its characters, didn't overuse Baby Groot (huge win) and, moved several stories and characters ahead.
I mean, what else do I need to say, there was even a Microsoft Zune reference.
The sequel might miss a huge, fantastic, end-of-the world climax and any connection to Earth, but it prevails with its strong cast and committed, consistent direction. Any move that makes me smile for 2-plus hours is going to get a glaringly positive review.